The Oswego 308 Board of Education voted unanimously to adopt the 2012 tax levy with a 4.98 percent increase, or the amount of $93,275,900 on Monday night.
In coming to this decision, Assistant Superintendent Paul O’Malley reiterated to the public and board that the Oswego school district had started the budget process earlier with a $7.4 million deficit that they were able to over several months cut down to $2.6 million. He also noted that the school district’s General State Aid was reduced by $4.1 million, which had it been available would have resulted in a much different outcome.
That deficit was approved in the 2012-13 school year budget and involved cuts across many areas, but O’Malley picked out the $1.2 million cut made in the common core programs. “[The common core] is a huge part of what we do and why we’re here,” he said. “It was not easy to eliminate that.”
He said approving the budget with a $2.6 million deficit was a difficult decision, and approving the levy tonight would also be a difficult decision.
“We know the levy will ultimately result in an increase in our taxes,” O’Malley said. O’Malley estimated that a homeowner with a home valued at $300,000 would pay around an additional $90 a year under the new levy.
O’Malley said the reason the tax impact is high on the resident is due to two factors outside of the district’s control: the recent enormous enrollment growth necessitating new construction, and low commercial/industrial development relative to residential growth.
By adopting this tax levy, said O’Malley, “you will offset that deficit; that deficit will be eliminated.” Any additional revenue from the levy would be applied to assisting teachers in the common core.
O’Malley, as said at a previous board meeting, said the school would not likely get 4.98 percent, but closer to 3.1 percent after it has been approved by the county clerk.
Board secretary Laurie Pasteris asked for clarification on the amount aggregated in the levy for Special Education. In the 2011 levy it had been just over $2.6 million and for the 2012 levy it was at $12,575,900.
O’Malley said the reason for the higher amount was that the district spends about $25 million on special education services, be they transportation or social services. He said the programs are required as a state mandate and that the levy is more of a reflection of what the district spends.
The 2011 total amount aggregated was $88,853,655, compared to the proposed 2012 levy amount of $93,275,900.
The board voted 6-0 to adopt the tax levy, which will be filed by Dec. 21 with the county clerk.
The levy will generate property tax revenues for the district to operate in calendar year 2013.